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SD High School Class B Boys Basketball Region Tournament Previews

Class B regions begin on March 2, and we have you covered for all the info you need to get ready.

Regions 5 and 6 are front-loaded with some great teams, whereas Regions 1, 2 and 4 look to be the deepest. But it’s hard to argue that Region 3 is the best top to bottom and might be the toughest to get a spot in the SoDak 16. Here’s an overview of what to expect.

 

Region 1B

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Aberdeen Christian boys basketball team during a game time out Aberdeen Christian is the top seed in Region 1B.
Aberdeen Christian

Aberdeen Christian recently vaulted to the top of the Class B rankings with a win over Viborg-Hurley. They haven’t lost to a Class B team yet this year. Andrew Rohrbach leads a multi-talented group of team-first players.

Leola/Frederick

Leola/Frederick gets their scoring from Isaac Sumption and Haydn Podoll and their rebounding from Zach Mueller and Josh Hoffman. The team shoots 35% from three and haven’t lost since January.

The Rest of the Contenders

Warner and Northwestern are sitting third and fourth in the region, and both have shown they can contend with good teams. Warner’s junior forward Landon Leidholt keeps his team in almost every game, and Northwestern’s senior guard Zech Clemens can explode on any night.

Waubay/Summit currently sits in the five seed and needs a signature win to move into contention. They’re 0-4 against the top four seeds in the region.

Under the Radar

Cole Fosness and Britton-Hecla could surge from the middle of the pack. They’re one of the toughest teams with a sub-.500 record in the class. They have notched wins against Warner and Leola/Frederick this season. Wilmot is playing much better down the stretch, they’ve beaten Northwestern and Tri-State, two teams above .500 recently.  

Notes of Interest
  • Aberdeen Christian has six players who average at least seven points per game.
  • Haydn Podoll (Leola/Frederick) is shooting 47.9% from three-point range.
  • Andrew Rohrbach (Ab. Christian) has an astounding 3.78 assist to turnover ratio and likely leads the state with 7.4 assists per game.
  • Zech Clemens (Northwestern Area) is a national finalist for the American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Championship in April in Atlanta. Find out how to vote for him here AmFam.com/FanVote.

Region Roundup

This might be the deepest region in the class. There is a great chance for quarterfinal upsets and even semifinal upsets. Aberdeen Christian looks like the overwhelming favorite, but don’t be surprised if someone from the middle of the pack joins them in the SoDak 16. My pick to survive and advance are Aberdeen Christian and Northwestern.

 

Region 2B

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Nick Wittler of Sully Buttes shooting a basketball Nick Wittler has Sully Buttes in position to make a playoff run.
Sully Buttes

The Chargers have played in several close games this year, but they’ve managed to charge to the top of 2B with Nick Wittler, Jett Lamb and Grant Johnson leading the way. Nick Wittler recently cleared 1500 career points. Sully Buttes recently lost a close one to region rival Herreid/Selby but have won 14 of their last 15.

Herreid/Selby Area

The Wolverines have been playing much better in February. Head Coach Chris Hettick likes where they’re headed. "We have found different ways to win games against some good teams as of late. Early in the year, we were just not very sharp," said Hettick. "We need to defend and rebound the ball to win games. If we do that, we are successful."

The Rest of the Contenders

Potter County and Ipswich are above .500 teams who are making a playoff push. The Battlers losses in the last month have come to good teams, which are testing them for the level of competition in the post-season. Grant Luikens leads the team with 17.8 points per game. Ipswich hasn’t fared well against the cream of the Class B, but they can’t be overlooked. They have a 20 ppg scorer in William Kadlec leading the way.

PC and Ipswich are a combined 0-4 against the favorites in the region, so they’ll have to be on top of their game in order to crack the SoDak 16.

Under the Radar

Lower Brule got off to a 1-5 start, but since the calendar flipped to 2020, they have put together a much better season. Highmore-Harrold could be a team on the rise. They pushed Herreid/Selby to a two-point game on February 17.

Notes of Interest
  • Herreid/Selby has the exact same starting group as last season.
  • Highmore-Harrold senior Dylan McDonnell had a 42 points, six assist game last week in a win over Iroquois/Doland.
  • Four of Potter County’s top six scorers are sophomores.
  • William Kadlec of Ipswich had a five-game stretch with at least 22 points.

Region Roundup

This region isn’t top heavy in terms of seed points. The projected SoDak 16 teams would have the lowest seed points of any region in Class B. However, those top two teams Sully Buttes and Herreid/Selby have fared well in the region, only losing a combined two games to 2B opponents. But the seed point difference between the top and the bottom of this region is as close as any. I’d be surprised if the Chargers and Wolverines don’t make the SoDak 16, but there are a lot of tough contenders.

 

Region 3B

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Kalen Garry shooting a layup during a game Kalen Garry leads De Smet in scoring as a sophomore.
De Smet

The Bulldogs don’t fit the mold of a championship team. They start no seniors, and they don’t have a starter 6-2 or taller. But despite being one of the youngest teams, they’re one of the most talented teams in the class. They’re led by sophomore Kalen Garry at 21 PPG.

Head Coach Jeff Gruenhagen knows they haven’t played their best yet. "We will have to keep moving and sharing the ball in post season play to be successful and work hard in the rebounding department," he said. "Defense is our key ingredient, as we try to play man-to-man most of the time and try to keep our opponent from too many open looks at the basket or second chance points. Our youth still shows at times, but we have played many good teams this season in big games on the road, and we hope that has prepared us for Region play."

Arlington

The Cardinals are one of the bigger surprises in the state. They’ve been led by Trey Ramstad at 18.9 points per game. Ramstad has put together triple-double threatening games in his last couple of weeks. This season, he has broken the Arlington school records for single game scoring and is close in assists. Head Coach Mike Parry has these guys playing very well. "We need to continue to improve and stay healthy for the end of the season," he said.

The Rest of the Contenders

Wolsey-Wessington ripped off 10 straight wins to open the season. Brevan Hooks continues to score and find teammates like Tristan Abbott and Payson Gohn for the bucket. Hooks is one of the more versatile players around – he averages 11.7 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 5.1 APG.

Castlewood isn’t exactly playing their best heading into postseason. They’ve dropped five of their last six games after a strong start. However, Head Coach Barry Jacobson feels better after the flu bug has blown through that tough stretch. Garret Kerkvliet, Tristan Nielsen and Kaden Eng give the Warriors a strong core of scoring.

"As we move into the playoffs, we have to play more physical defense without fouling," said Coach Jacobson. "We’ve struggled to get stops at times, and that will ultimately be the difference maker for us in the playoffs."

Under the Radar

Wessington Springs is another potential contender, but they’ve yet to beat a team above .500 this year.

Notes of Interest
  • Nine De Smet varsity players fathers played for the Bulldogs in the late 80s and early 90s on teams all coached by Marv McCune and made state tourney appearances.
  • Brevan Hooks of Wolsey-Wessington had a triple-double against Highmore-Harrold earlier this season and was one assist shy of another one against Kimball/White Lake.
  • James Valley Christian alum Andrew Ulvestad is in his first year coaching at his alma mater.

Region Roundup

There are more contenders in this region than any other to make state. Not many regions have three teams with as good of a resume as De Smet, Arlington and Wolsey-Wessington. As good as the top is, the overall depth of the region is not as good, which means I don’t see many upsets brewing in the first two rounds of action. My pick to make state is De Smet and Arlington.

 

Region 4B

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Reggie Slaba, Hansen, SD Reggie Slaba set the school record for points in a single game.
Hanson

The Beavers have been one of the more underrated teams in the state. Their three losses of the season came to Aberdeen Christian, Viborg-Hurley and Platte-Geddes – three great teams. 

Their head coach, Josh Oltmanns, knows they need to get even better before the post season, though. "Even though we are tall, we lack some physicality at times, and can be pushed around," he said. "We need to be more focused on playing tough. We know we will have tough matchups just to make it out of Region Play, so focusing on the game in front of us will also be important."

Reggie Slaba and Riley Ferry bring the offensive firepower for Hanson.

Howard

Though the school might be light on tradition and basketball history, they do have a very well-rounded team this year. Jake Brooks, Sam Aslesen and Tisyn Spader have the Tigers hoping to make a run to state this year. Not many teams can defend like Howard. They have a lot of height and length with six players at 6’3" or taller.

Head Coach Nick Koepsell said, "We use our length to slow teams down and try to take them out of their game.” That’s exactly what they did against Canistota on February 17 when they held the run-and-gun team to just 42 points.

The Rest of the Contenders

The list of contenders in Region 4B is as long as any.

Dell Rapids St. Mary has been in and out of the top five all year long. They feature Connor Libis, who’s averaging 25.9 PPG along with a strong corps of rebounders. Head Coach Colby Fitzgerald said, "As a group, if we can clean things up on the defensive end (particularly winning the rebounding battle) down the stretch and into postseason, we hope that brings us success. Always for us, when we can shoot at a high level from the three-point line, it makes us very competitive."

Ethan is having a tremendous season. Head Coach Bryce Roth likes their composure. "We play and start many young players, who have each stepped up this season as the year has gone on," he said. "If we want to remain successful, we will have to continue to play good defense and remain balanced on offense." They feature several scoring threats, including their leader Brady Hawkins, who averages 18 PPG and 10 RPG.

Elkton-Lake Benton has one of their best teams in recent memory. Matt Nibbe and Grant DeRuyter are a strong one-two punch in the scoring department for the Elks. Head Coach Steve Erickson has his team in contention. "We just try to have our kids play hard, play the right way, and play as a team," he said. "I think the consistency factor on the offensive end and the continued commitment on defense is really important for us to reach our goals and make a run in the post season."

Under the Radar

Colman-Egan and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket are mired in the middle of the region, but both boast outstanding athletes and potential to do damage in the playoffs.

C-E’s Dalton Voelker is a nightly double-double threat. The Hawks are playing really well right now and almost upset Arlington on February 17. 

SCW’s Noah Dickson is one of the best scorers in the class. The Blackhawks just finished a tough stretch on their schedule, where they lost five in a row to teams at or near the top of the class. However, they could be a sneaky under the radar team in the regions.

Notes of Interest
  • Reggie Slaba has broken two school records for Hanson this season: most three-pointers in a game (11) and the single game scoring record (47).
  • Howard’s Sam Aslesen parents both played at Sioux Falls College (now USF). His mom Janna Austin is second on the all-time scoring list at the school.
  • Dell Rapids St. Mary guard Connor Libis has eclipsed 2,000 career points already and is just a junior. DRSM is the only school in state history to have three players who've scored at least 2,000 career points: Jerry Even (2,038 pts), Colby Fitzgerald (2,294) and Connor Libis (2012 as of Feb 17 and counting).
  • Ethan senior Brady Hawkins recently went past 1,000 career points, and he missed 25 games in his career due to injury or illness.
  • Ethan has had six different players who've scored at least 20 points in a game this year.

Region Roundup

Region 4B is hands down the toughest region to qualify for the SoDak 16. There will be four excellent quarterfinal games on March 3. Look for some road teams to put a scare into the top four seeds before we move on to the Corn Palace on March 6, where teams will qualify for the SoDak 16. I can’t bring myself to pick two teams in this region, because there are seven teams that I like a lot. I can’t wait to see how this one plays out.

 

Region 5B

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Viborg-Hurley boys basketball team captains before a game Viborg-Hurley has had a great season, despite having just two seniors on the roster.
Viborg-Hurley

The Cougars have been one of the best teams in the class all season. Their only losses came to Sioux Valley, De Smet and Aberdeen Christian. Head Coach Galen Schoenefeld is one of the top coaches around and has this fantastic group of mostly underclassmen playing well. They’ve had to battle a few injuries and illness throughout the year, but they are not only a favorite in the region – they’re a favorite to win state.

Canistota

The Hawks have been an up and down team on the court, as in getting up and down the court quickly. They’ve also been up and down in their results. They’ve lost to Lyman, Hanson, V-H and Howard but beaten some good teams like De Smet, Ethan, White River and Elkton. The one thing you can expect each time out is tough defense and an electric transition game if you don’t make your shots. 

The Rest of the Contenders

Freeman Academy/Marion is right there with the favorites in seed points, but they lack a signature win. They do have two wins over winning squads (Ethan, Gayville-Volin), but after a nine-game winning streak to start the season, they’ve settled back down.

Under the Radar

Bridgewater-Emery is a sneaky good team in this region. They dealt with a tough schedule and a slow start coming off a long football season, but since have played a difficult schedule and been able to contend. Chase Arend is among the most explosive scorers in the state at 20.5 PPG, with Tyler Kjetland pitching in.

Notes of Interest
  • Jaxon Doering of Alcester-Hudson nearly averages a double-double with 11.3 PPG and 9.2 RPG. He had a season-high 18 rebound game against Scotland this season.
  • Chase Arend more than doubled his points per game average from last year (9.7 in 2019, 20.5 ppg in 2020).
  • According to Viborg-Hurley Head Coach Galen Schoenefeld: "Today, our managers weren't at practice. Chase Mason, after receiving treatment on his injured ankle, filled every player's water bottle without being asked." That’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Region Roundup

Region 5B has a delineation between the contenders and the teams not ready for primetime. The top four squads have all shown potential to make a run, but it’s really Canistota and Viborg-Hurley who are the serious contenders. It will be surprising to see an upset in the quarters in 5B.

 

Region 6B

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Platte-Geddes boys basketball team Platte-Geddes has won 10 in a row.
Platte-Geddes

Frank Cutler has Platte-Geddes playing top-flight basketball, and the rest of the state should be on notice. Since February began, they’ve reeled off eight wins in a row, including a double-digit win against Sanborn Central/Woonsocket and a win against Winner – a Class A team! They may have played their best game of the year at the Hanson Classic when they pounded Hanson 57-42. Kelby VanDerWerff is a 6’5" junior who is a matchup nightmare for opponents. Will Miller, Brody Boltjes, Caden Foxley and Jackson Neuman round out a strong starting five.

Marty

In contrast, the Marty Braves have a very seasoned and experienced group trying to make a run to state. Marty has yet to lose to a Class B team yet this year. Xavier Hare, Torrey Bohannon and Alex Cournoyer are very solid juniors to go with the senior leaders on this team.

The Rest of the Contenders

Burke, Corsica-Stickney and Gregory all boast solid records in 6B.

Jaden and Bryce Frank have led Burke, and they’ve put together a good season.

Corsica-Stickney can get almost all their starters into double digits on a given night. The Jags have played a really tough schedule and have shown they can compete with anyone.

Gregory has a lot of talent in Tommy Determan, Coy Determan and the 8th grader Daniel Mitchell. If those guys get in sync, they are a scary team.

Under the Radar

While Andes Central/Dakota Christian’s record might not sparkle, they can pull out an upset. Jaeson Garcia, Tyler Swanson, Parker Vander Pol, Nolan Black Cloud and Rizon Clark share the scoring load equally. AC/DC lost by just three points to Marty on February 11, so if a few things go their way, the Thunder could cause some havoc.

Bon Homme is also upset-prone. They have a very athletic team that can play defense with the best, but can they get enough points to keep up with the top teams in the region?

Notes of Interest
  • Platte-Geddes doesn’t start a senior.
  • The top two teams in this region (P-G and Marty) haven’t lost a game in region 6B.

Region Roundup

While the depth is good at the top of region 6B it’s hard to argue against Platte-Geddes and Marty getting to the SoDak 16. But if I had to pick a sleeper it would be Corsica-Stickney. They’ve tested themselves with a tough schedule and haven’t yet played their best ball.

 

Region 7B

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Eldon Marshall, head coach of White River boys basketball team Eldon Marshall, head coach of White River, has led his team to State 14 years in a row.
White River

White River came into the season as one of the biggest question marks in the state. They lost a few key players to transfer but brought back a batch of players hungry to prove themselves. They won nine in a row to start the season and put the state on notice.

Recently, they have collected wins against contenders like Howard and Corsica-Stickney, but lost a couple on the road to Pine Ridge and Todd County. They’ll have to be at their best to push through to the SoDak 16. Nick Sayler leads this athletic group into the postseason.

Lyman

The Raiders have put together a surprisingly good season. They’ve been in and out of the top five all year and have posted impressive wins throughout the season. However, down the stretch, they’ve been up and down as they head into the playoffs.

The starting five bring a mix of experience and youth to the court. Tyson Floyd and Brenden Estes bring some leadership with sophomores Sam McClanahan, Stockton McClanahan and Toby Estes playing beyond their years. This team is at its best when they clamp down on defense.

The Rest of the Contenders

Kadoka Area has a balanced attack with Dylan VanderMay and Rich Lamont leading the way. However, they’ve yet to beat a team with a winning record.

Oelrichs is in the same boat. They’ve yet to get a big win against a winning team, but they have the tools to pull out an upset.

Under the Radar

Jones County is a team to watch with one of the best one-two punches in the region. Wyatt Olson and Riley Rankin can each have big nights.

Wall is another team that could pull out a sneaky win. They have defeated Oelrichs and taken Lyman to overtime. Bridger Amiotte, Kole Gallino and Tack Tines give the Eagles a chance to compete in every game. They are currently scheduled to be in the eight seed, which pits them with White River in the quarters – an unfortunate draw.

Notes of Interest
  • Edgemont’s Caleb Simmons leads the region with 20.8 points per game. He's had four games with 20+ points and 10 or more rebounds.
  • White River has qualified for 14 consecutive state tournaments.

Region Roundup

White River seems like a shoe in to get to the SoDak 16, but the rest of the region will have to be at their best to get that ticket. I’m leaning toward picking Lyman. However, Kadoka and Jones County will have a legit shot to take them out.

 

Region 8B

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Aberdeen Christian boys basketball team during a game time out Zach Anders (Harding County) is one of two players on the team that average more than 20 points per game.
Harding County

The Ranchers have some of the most explosive players around. Camden Hett and Zack Anders both score north of 20 points per game for Harding County.

"That’s the highest average in my 14 years of coaching," said Coach Jay Wammen. "We are working hard to improve every single day at practice and at every game. Our region has some really tough competition at the top. Four or five teams can come out of our region, so it will make for some interesting basketball in our tournament play."

Faith

Faith has beaten Harding County twice this year. They have passed almost every test, but their seed points haven’t been helped by their level of competition. Jade Mortenson gives the Longhorns a force in the middle of the paint. They have great senior play from Harland Groves and Trey Bushong as well.

The Rest of the Contenders

Timber Lake and Lemmon are legit contenders in this region.

Timber Lake is led by Isaac Kraft at guard. He’s a versatile scorer and solid defender.

Lemmon is a very athletic team, with Peyton Anderson leading the charge. Britt Oliver, Jaden Kelley and Jacob Hetzel are all capable of double-digit scoring, too.

Under the Radar

Tiospaye Topa and McIntosh will need to step up their game in order to get through this tough region.

Notes of Interest
  • Harding County has two players over 20 points per game (Camden Hett and Zack Anders).
  • Faith is the last Region 8B team to win in the state quarterfinals. They were state runner-up in 2006.

 

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